Bombers' bullpen is burning

July, 30, 2014
Jul 30

ARLINGTON, Texas -- You can smell it now, and it doesn't smell like victory.

It smells like the odor of arms burning out from overuse.

That is really the only way to explain what went on with the New York Yankees' bullpen Tuesday night, when normally reliable and even dominant relievers such as Adam Warren, Dellin Betances and David Robertson suddenly all become ineffective on the same night, in the same game, and in much the same way.

[+] EnlargeDavid Robertson
Tim Heitman/USA TODAY SportsCloser David Robertson notched his 27th save of the season in Texas but not without drama in the ninth.
All three of them had trouble with mechanics, command and control. All three suffered through terrible, and almost disastrous outings.

All three, along with their manager, wanted to shrug it off as a one-night hiccup, with no connection to the past and no implications for the future.

You would love to believe them, because if it is something else, if it is what you fear it might be, then whatever playoff hopes the Yankees still harbor are about as realistic as Joan Rivers' cheekbones.

Because if there is one unit of this club that has yet to let them down, and in fact has kept them afloat, it has been the bullpen, specifically the back end, anchored by Warren, Betances and Robertson, and helped out to some extent by Shawn Kelley and Matt Thornton.

But that unit, which should have had a breeze of a night after having been entrusted with an 8-4 lead after 5½ innings, systematically imploded to the point that what should have been a laugher was a white-knuckle job right up until Adrian Beltre's bases-loaded drive to the warning track settled into Brett Gardner's glove to finally put an end to a 12-11 Yankees victory.

The Yankees' offense hasn't had many nights like this, but wouldn't it be bitterly ironic that just as the bats seem to be breaking out, the bullpen starts to break down? Earlier in the season, you could generally count on the Yankees' pen to protect a lead, no matter how slim. Tuesday night, you had to beg and pray for them to hold on despite having a six-run cushion heading into the bottom of the seventh.

"I don't know if it's the workload," Robertson said. "Usually we feed off each other and do real well; today just wasn’t our day. We weren’t clicking and the offense was. We managed to not let them down. We had a bad day, an off-night. Maybe we’ll be better tomorrow.”


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Robertson came away with his 27th save in 29 chances, but had a horrific ninth inning, walking three batters, allowing a two-run single to Elvis Andrus and coming probably a fraction of an inch from taking the loss in what surely would have been the worst defeat of the season.

"I feel like the luckiest guy on Earth right now for escaping that inning as bad as I pitched," Robertson said. "That’s about as bad as you can suck out there and still get lucky enough to get one of the better hitters in baseball out and not lose the ballgame. I just fell apart out there.”

Robertson found himself in that position because Warren left the bases loaded in the seventh inning on two walks and a single, and Betances -- called in to pitch to J.P. Arencibia, who was enjoying a career night -- left a 3-2 fastball, clocked at 97 mph, up in the zone, where Arencibia could crush it into the left-field seats for a grand slam that turned a 10-4 blowout into a 10-8 squeaker.

Warren said his mechanics felt out of sync, and Betances could not get his curveball over the plate, which is why he was throwing a fastball in that situation in the first place.

But both have already worked more, way more, than they have ever worked in the major leagues before, and there is still one-third of the season yet to be played. Already, Warren -- who got into 34 games last year in mostly low-leverage situations -- has worked in 48 games this season, usually as the seventh-inning man preceding Betances and Robertson.

Betances, of course, is a rookie who came into this season with less than eight innings of big league experience. And it should be recalled that until last year he was a starter, accustomed to working every five days. Now, even though he has worked just 64⅓ innings, the routine of a reliever is taxing in a different way, with pitchers sometimes warming up several times in a game and often working in back-to-back games.

[+] EnlargeDellin Betances
Tom Pennington/Getty ImagesReliever Dellin Betances kept the Rangers in the game, surrendering a slam in the seventh inning.
As for Robertson, he may be finding that the transition from setup man to closer is not as easy as everyone thinks -- despite his impressive conversion rate, many of his saves have been difficult -- and that getting the last three outs of a game is nowhere near as easy as Mariano Rivera made it look for 17 years.

Throw in the fact that the Yankees' starting rotation is injury-depleted, creating a need for a lot of relief pitching, and that their bullpen leads the league with 385 strikeouts, and you have a unit that has thrown a lot of pitches and worked in a lot of games, with a lot of games still to come.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi acknowledged that the workload placed on his relievers could be becoming an area of concern.

"I do [worry] a little bit, and I'll have to watch them as we go down the stretch here," Girardi said. "The good thing is we have an off-day Thursday and some of the guys probably won’t pitch tomorrow. So that’ll give 'em two days off and it should refresh them a little bit."

Girardi said he "wouldn't make too much" of Betances' meltdown because after allowing the grand slam -- as well as a triple to Leonys Martin -- he was able to sandwich two strikeouts around a walk to Rougned Odor to end the inning with "only" four runs allowed, three of which were charged to Warren.

Mark Teixeira, whose eighth-inning, two-run homer looked like window dressing at the time but turned out to be a game-winner, also chose to believe that the bullpen's meltdown was an aberration.

"You know, give them one hiccup," he said. "Let them have a hiccup because they've been picking us up all year long. We haven't been picking them up. It was kind of our night for the offense to pick those guys up."

You have to hope he's right, and Girardi is right, and Warren, Betances and Robertson are right.

And that your eyes, and that acrid smell in your nose, is wrong.

Because if the Yankees' bullpen is burning out, the rest of the team is soon to come tumbling down.

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Brett Gardner had four hits to go with a tremendous sliding catch and the New York Yankees held on for a 12-11 victory at Texas on Tuesday night in spite of J.P. Arencibia's seven RBIs.

Gardner had a leadoff homer and two doubles, and he reached base twice in a seven-run sixth that put the Yankees ahead to stay.

He started the inning with a double and scored on Carlos Beltran's two run-single, then reached on a three-base error that deflected off two outfielders and sent home the rally's final run.

Arencibia homered twice and drove in seven runs for Texas, including a grand slam. He also had two doubles to be the first Rangers player with four extra-base hits since Josh Hamilton's four-homer game at Baltimore on May 8, 2012.

The last player with at least seven RBIs in a loss was Jonathan Lucroy in 2012, when Milwaukee fell to the Cubs, STATS said.

(Read full post)

Rapid Reaction: Yankees 12, Rangers 11

July, 30, 2014
Jul 30
ARLINGTON, Texas -- It's probably indicative of the kind of season the Yankees are having that even on a night when they fill an egg carton with runs, they still manage to find themselves in a nail-biter of a game.
That's because they never seem to get all the moving parts of this machine to work in sync. Tonight, the offense clicked, but the pitching, especially the bullpen, struggled, and as a result, a game that should have been a laugher was a groaner until the final out, when David Robertson, who allowed the Rangers to pull within a run, got Adrian Beltre to fly out to the warning track with the bases loaded. Despite walking three and allowing two hits, Robertson escaped with his 27th save of the season. But it's not one he will brag about to his grandkids.

Starter Brandon McCarthy (3-0 as a Yankee) pitched acceptably -- 6 IP, 9 H, 4 ERs -- but Adam Warren and Dellin Betances, so reliable earlier in the season, combined to surrender four seventh-inning runs that turned a rout into a much closer game than it should have been. Still, a win is a win, and if the Yankees want to stay in the wild-card hunt, they can't afford to blow games like this, or really, to lose any more to teams as bad as the Rangers.

Fatal blow: Despite the Yankees scoring 10 runs through seven innings, this one was still up for grabs until Mark Teixeira, making his first start in nine days, belted a 2-2 pitch from Neal Cotts into the left-field seats with a runner aboard to make it a 12-8 game. It was Tex's team-leading 18th home run and 50th RBI. He also walked three times and scored after two of them.

Season high: The Yankees had their biggest inning of the season in the sixth, when they sent 11 men to the plate and scored seven runs, six of them earned. Previously they had had three five-run innings, the most recent on June 24 in Toronto. And their 12 runs snapped an 83-game streak of single-digit games, their longest such streak in the DH (post-1973) era.

It's not just Yu, Darvish: Gardner, who cracked two home runs off Yu Darvish Monday night, belted the second pitch he saw from Nick Martinez into the right-center field seats to give the Yankees a 1-0 lead. Gardner now has 13 HRs, more than any other Yankee not named Mark Teixeira. He also had three other hits, including two doubles, and through the first two games of this series has seven hits in 10 at-bats.

Nicked up: The Yankees chased Rangers starter Nick Martinez, who had shut them out for 5 1/3 innings last week, with seven sixth-inning runs to take an 8-4 lead, with a big assist to Derek Jeter, who hustled to first on what looked like a routine groundout, and to Joe Girardi, who successfully challenged the call after Jeter was originally called out.

Jeter's infield hit, which followed a Brett Gardner leadoff double -- his third hit of the night -- keyed an inning that featured a two-run single off the glove of 1B J.P. Arencibia by Carlos Beltran, an RBI single by Zoilo Almonte, and a two-run double by Brendan Ryan that sailed over the head of CF Leonys Martin. The final run scored on an outfield error on RF Alex Rios, who allowed Gardner's long fly ball to glance off his glove and into the face of Martin, allowing Ryan to score from second.

Career night: Rangers first baseman J.P. Arencibia came into the game batting .152 with four home runs and 15 RBIs. He left it hitting .183 with six home runs and 22 RBIs after going 4-for-5 with two homers, two doubles and seven RBIs. His grand slam off Dellin Betances on a 3-2 fastball clocked at 97 mph cut the Yankees' lead to 10-8 and no doubt caused whatever traces of black hair Girardi still had on his head to turn snow white. The Yankees could not retire Arencibia until David Robertson struck him out leading off the ninth.

Two-out meltdown: Just as David Phelps had done in the fifth inning on Monday, McCarthy got two quick outs in the third, but couldn't put the Rangers away. Instead, they strung together four hits, capped by J.P Arencibia's two-run double, to take a 3-1 lead. And it might have been worse had Gardner not made a spectacular sliding catch to rob Shin-Soo Choo of a probable double for the first out of the inning.

Tomorrow: Finale of this three-game series, Hiroki Kuroda (7-6, 3.99) vs. RHP Colby Lewis (6-8, 6.23), first pitch at 8:05 p.m.

Pineda's about to be on the clock

July, 29, 2014
Jul 29
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Michael Pineda threw three simulated innings and 45 simulated pitches in Tampa today, and his next stop is a real game, of the minor league variety, on Sunday.

[+] EnlargeMichael Pineda
Jared Wickerham/Getty ImagesMichael Pineda is working toward an August return to the rotation.
That will start the 30-day rehab clock that will culminate, hopefully, in Pineda's return to the Yankees sometime in August.

Joe Girardi said Pineda will pitch "somewhere" on Sunday, probably throwing in the neighborhood of 60-65 pitches, with his workload gradually increasing from there, assuming there are no setbacks, of which there have already been at least two in his recovery from a lat strain below his right shoulder.

Because of that, Girardi would not hazard a guess as to when Pineda might be ready to return -- "Whatever they say he needs is what it is. I'm not going to put a number on it," he said. -- but it is safe to assume he will need at least three rehab starts, and probably more, to get his pitch count up above 90 before he could be reactivated. That likely means a mid- to late-August return at the earliest.

That could serve as the equivalent of a late-season trade-deadline acquisition, which would be a significant boost for the Yankees' injury-depleted rotation.

“I don’t ever think it hurts," Girardi said. "It’s hard to tell where we’ll be when it’s his turn to come off, where we’ll physically be. But as we’ve seen, you can never have too many starters.”

Pineda was 2-2 with a 1.83 ERA when he went on the DL on May 6 following a 10-game suspension for using pine tar in a game against the Red Sox on April 23 in Boston.
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Mark Teixeira is back in the lineup from an eight-day absence, Jacoby Ellsbury is back from one night off, and Brian McCann is back behind the plate, which means tonight's Yankees lineup looks a little more normal than the ones we've been seeing lately.

Here's the team Joe Girardi is sending out against the Rangers and right-handed starter Nick Martinez tonight:

Brett Gardner LF
Derek Jeter SS
Ellsbury CF
Teixeira 1B
Carlos Beltran DH
McCann C
Chase Headley 3B
Zoilo Almonte RF
Brendan Ryan 2B

Brandon McCarthy RHP

Notes: Joe Girardi said he sees some signs of fatigue in Brian Roberts, hence Ryan at second base tonight. Girardi said he would likely give Roberts, who has just two hits in his last 17 at-bats, "a couple of days off." . . . Same for the also-slumping Ichiro Suzuki (3-for-his-last-22), which is why Almonte is starting in right . . . Girardi said he expects Kelly Johnson (groin strain) to come off the DL when he is eligible on August 7. Johnson is likely to play a couple of rehab games before being reactivated . . . McCarthy, making his fourth start as a Yankee, is 3-5 with a 4.41 ERA against Texas in 11 career starts, and 1-3, 5.97 in Arlington . . . Martinez, a product of the Bronx and Fordham University, threw 5 1/3 scoreless, three-hit innings vs. the Yankees on July 22 at Yankee Stadium in his only career start against the Yankees. That game was eventually won by the Yankees, 2-1, in 14 innings. . . . The Rangers will honor Derek Jeter before tomorrow night's series finale, Jeter's last game in Arlington.

Yanks must prioritize their needs

July, 29, 2014
Jul 29
Josh Willingham, Mark Teixeira & Cliff LeeGetty ImagesThe Yanks need a corner outfielder, a backup for Tex and a pitcher. Who should they go after first?
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Yankees need, in no particular order, a starting pitcher, a corner outfielder, a backup first baseman and a boatload of wins.

GM Brian Cashman can't trade for the last item on that list, but he can do something about the other three.

The question: What does he go after first?

It's an almost impossible question to answer without knowing precisely who is available and at what cost, but it would seem to me that the order should be: outfielder, first baseman and pitcher.


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Obviously, those first two can be flip-flopped, because the odds are Mark Teixeira is not going to make it through the last 57 games of the season unscathed, and we've already seen that replacing a major league first baseman is not like stashing your portly uncle at first base in a family picnic softball game.

But the Yankees do not hit enough, as we've seen all season and saw again in Monday night's 4-2 loss to the Texas Rangers.

So I'm thinking corner outfielder with some power first. Josh Willingham, maybe? That's Cashman's job to figure out.

Then, the Yankees need a legitimate backup for Teixeira, because if there's one true mistake you can point to this offseason, it was the judgment that somehow a 34-year-old player with a recent history of nagging injuries would be able to bounce back from a serious wrist surgery, and a season limited to just 15 games, to put in a full workload this year. The failure to sign an insurance policy behind Teixeira has haunted the Yankees all season.

Then comes pitching, because truthfully, the rotation they have cobbled together after losing four of their five starters has been OK, given the proper run support. Which, of course, it hasn't received.

I don't propose to know who the Yankees will trade for or pursue through waiver claims, and even if I were to guess, Cashman's history with surprise deals probably means the guesses would be wrong anyway. And I get tired of being wrong.

So to kick off this non-waiver trade deadline week -- it's all over by 4 p.m. Thursday -- I throw it out to you:

In what order should the Yankees pursue late-season help between outfield, first base and starting pitching? (Maybe second base, too, although I'm not as down on Brian Roberts as many of you.)

Anyway, let us know where you would like the shopping spree to begin. Later in the week, we'll get into some specific names.

Up now: The Rapid Reaction from Monday night's loss, as well as my postgame blog on the Yankees' frustrating habit of never making any real progress this season.

On deck: Game 2 of this three-game series, Brandon McCarthy (2-0, 1.45 as a Yankee) vs. RHP Nick Martinez (1-6, 4.73), first pitch at 8:05 p.m. Clubhouse opens at 4:35 p.m., lineups and pregame news and notes to follow shortly thereafter. As always, thanks for reading.

ARLINGTON, Texas -- It is the hallmark of a mediocre team: One step forward, one step back. Two steps forward, three steps back. Four steps forward ... well, you get the idea.

The New York Yankees lost to the Texas Rangers 4-2 on Monday night, which is not a catastrophe in itself. They were facing Yu Darvish, one of the best pitchers in the game, and aside from Brett Gardner, who seems to own Yu -- Gardner hit two more home runs off him to give him four HRs in 11 career at-bats against him -- the Yankees, as usual, had a terrible time coming up with timely hits. And once David Phelps unraveled to allow four runs after he had already gotten two outs in the fifth inning, their fate was virtually sealed.

But where it does become a problem is when you look at the big picture. The Yankees were just coming off an excellent 10-game homestand, in which they went 7-3. It was marred only by the fact that they lost the final two games to the Toronto Blue Jays, with whom they are engaged in a dogfight for an AL wild-card spot.

Now, they are beginning a six-game road trip against two last-place teams -- OK, so one of them is the Boston Red Sox -- and they start out by blowing a game they might easily have won. Worse than that, they once again have followed a four-game winning streak, a stretch that looked like it might be a turning point to their puzzling season, with a three-game losing streak.

[+] EnlargeBrett Gardner
AP Photo/Tony GutierrezBrett Gardner provided the Yankees' only runs in a 4-2 defeat.
And even though they are just as likely to win the next two games here, and probably two of three in Boston, it is the repeat of a most disturbing pattern. Since June 1, when they were 29-25, here is the way things have gone: Lose four in a row, win two. Lose two in a row, win four. Lose two, win four. Lose four more. Win a couple, lose five.

So here we are, nearly two months later, with just about two months to go, and the Yankees are 54-51, or 25-26 since that June 1 milestone.

And unless that pattern is broken, that is the kind of season this is going to wind up being. A shade better than mediocre, and nowhere near good enough to make the playoffs, or more importantly, to justify last winter's expenditure on players or the exorbitant prices demanded of their fans.

Yes, the Yankees have had more than their share of injuries. In a way, it is remarkable that any team that could lose four of its five starting pitchers to injury wouldn't have fallen hard into the cellar.

But the truth is, the pitching hasn't really been the problem. Phelps, Chase Whitley, Shane Greene, Brandon McCarthy and, most recently, Chris Capuano have stepped in and pitched competently, if not brilliantly, in emergency duty. Even including his disastrous fifth inning, Phelps pitched well enough on Monday night to give most teams at least a chance to win.

But the Yankees are losing for one simple reason: They don't hit enough.

Gardner's two home runs were the sum total of their scoring, but not their offense against the formidable Darvish. In fact, the first four hitters in their batting order -- Gardner, Derek Jeter, Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran -- went 7-for-14 against Darvish with two home runs, a double, a walk and a stolen base.

And still, the only two runs they could manage came from Gardner's 11th and 12th home runs of the season. The fact that Gardner is tied, with Beltran, for second place on the team in HRs tells you a lot about this offense.


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But not everything.

The rest of the story was told in at-bats like McCann's in the seventh, when with runners on second and third, two out and the Yankees trailing by two, he swung over a 2-2 cutter, Darvish's final pitch of the night, to end the inning. And like the final at-bat of the eighth, when Yankees manager Joe Girardi, in what I thought a questionable move, decided to pinch hit for future Hall of Famer Ichiro Suzuki with rookie Zelous Wheeler. It was a knee-jerk, lefty-right move that ignored the likelihood that Ichiro would at least give a professional at-bat against lefty Neal Cotts. The inexperienced Wheeler popped up a 2-2 fastball, stranding runners at first and second.

There was also the fourth inning, when the Yankees had runners on first and second with one out, only to see Brian Roberts strike out and Ichiro ground out to snuff out that rally.

The end result was a frustrating one for all the Yankees, but none more than Derek Jeter, who with his three hits, one of them a double that skipped into the right-center-field seats, passed Carl Yastrzemski for seventh on the all-time major league hits list.

"It's quite an accomplishment," Jeter said. "But it's tough to enjoy when you lose the game."

Indeed. It's also tough to get truly excited by a winning streak when this season it is almost always followed by an equivalent losing streak. There never seems to be any sustainable momentum with this team, and consequently, never a genuine reason to believe that they will at some point finally be able to turn this season around.

"You've just got to turn it around," Girardi said. "We know that we're capable of doing it. We've done it at times. We had a pretty good homestand. We didn't start this road trip off the way we want, but you can change the feeling tomorrow."

The Yankees have changed the feeling many times already this season. Problem is, whenever they start to get you feeling good about them, they change it back to where you feel bad about them again.

That is the essence of mediocrity. So far, this is a team that is neither very good nor very bad, and never one or the other for long enough to truly be either.

Blame mom and dad: Gardner was predictably modest about his success against Darvish -- he added a single in the seventh to his two home runs and is now 5-for-12 (.417) with four home runs lifetime against him -- but Darvish had the quote of the night when he said through an interpreter, "I just blame the parents of Brett Gardner. I just blame them for creating a great hitter."

Tex makes a cameo: After having missed seven games with a lat strain, Mark Teixeira made an appearance, hitting for Roberts in the eighth and, batting right-handed, singling to left off Neal Cotts. "It was very reassuring," Teixeira said. "I wasn't expecting anything negative, but at the same time you want to go out there and get it done."

Teixeira said he "absolutely" would be in the lineup for Tuesday's Game 2.

The Baseball Tonight crew breaks down the top teams in the AL East and who could win the division.

Rapid Reaction: Rangers 4, Yankees 2

July, 28, 2014
Jul 28
ARLINGTON, Texas -- This was the Yankees-Rangers game we might have seen last Wednesday had the skies above Yankee Stadium not opened up, the grounds crew not fallen down, and David Phelps not gotten away with a five-inning complete game.

Just like last time, the New York Yankees jumped out to a (slim) lead over Texas Rangers ace Yu Darvish, and just like last time, the long ball, from a most unlikely slugger, played a big part.

But unlike last time, Phelps was unable to hold the lead, and aside from Brett (Home Run) Gardner, the Yankees offense was pretty feeble once again, and utterly incapable of coming up with a timely hit. The first four hitters in their order went 8-for-17 with two home runs -- and still, they managed to score only twice.

As a result, the Yankees start off this six-game road trip with a 4-2 loss in the opener to the last-place Rangers, extending their losing streak to three straight games and dropping another half-game in the AL East race, to 4½ games behind the idle Baltimore Orioles.

On the bright side, Derek Jeter reached another milestone Monday (see below).

David Phlops: Staked to an early 2-0 lead, starter Phelps surrendered four two-out runs to the Rangers in the fifth, including a two-run single by J.P. Arencibia on an 0-2 pitch. Phelps allowed five hits in the inning, four of which came after Shin-Soo Choo had flied out for the second out of the inning. He also walked Jim Adduci to load the bases just before Arencibia's hit. Phelps, who had won his past four decisions and had not lost since June 7, had not allowed as many as four runs in an entire game since June 24.

No. 2 is now No. 7: Jeter had three hits off Darvish on Monday to move ahead of Carl Yastrzemski into seventh place on baseball's all-time hits list. Jeter's seventh-inning single, a classic opposite field liner on a hit-and-run play, gave him 3,420 hits for his career. The next target on his list, Honus Wagner, is just 10 hits away, but after that, Jeter probably runs out of Hall of Famers to leapfrog before his retirement at the end of the season; No. 5 on the list, Tris Speaker, is 94 hits ahead with 3,514.

Gardy goes yardy ... twice! Brett Gardner had four lifetime hits off Darvish in his first 10 career at-bats, which by the fifth inning of Monday's game means he was hitting .400 off one of the best pitchers in baseball. But beyond that, all four hits were home runs. Gardner's solo shot with two outs in the third was his second in five days off Darvish -- he homered, also in the third inning, off Darvish in the Yankees' rain-shortened 2-1 win over the Rangers on Wednesday at Yankee Stadium -- and also his 11th of the season, which is not only a career high but also the same number as Brian McCann and one less than Carlos Beltran. Two innings later, Gardner did it again, only this time even longer, into the batter's hitting background in center, to give the Yankees a 2-0 lead. It was the first multi-HR game of Gardner's career.

McCouldn't: Brian McCann has had some important hits lately, but not Monday. With two on, two out and the Yankees trailing by two runs in the top of the seventh, McCann failed to come through, swinging through a 2-2 breaking ball from Darvish, his last pitch of the night.

Wheels down: With two on and two down in the eighth, Yankees manager Joe Girardi hit for Ichiro Suzuki, a future Hall of Famer, with Zelous Wheeler simply because Wheeler is a right-handed hitter and LHP Neal Cotts was on the mound. Wheeler popped out harmlessly to second to kill the threat.

Tuesday: Game 2 of this three-game series matches Brandon McCarthy (2-0, 1.45 as a Yankee) and RHP Nick Martinez (1-6, 4.73), who shut the Yankees out into the sixth inning last Tuesday in the game they eventually won 2-1 in the 14th inning. First pitch is at 8:05 p.m.

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Yu Darvish struck out eight in seven innings for his 10th victory and J.P. Arencibia had a tiebreaking two-run single for the Texas Rangers in a 4-2 victory over the New York Yankees on Monday night.

Darvish (10-6) shouted out and pumped his fist after his final strikeout, when Brian McCann swung and missed to end the seventh with two runners on base.

Brett Gardner homered twice and Derek Jeter had three hits -- to pass Carl Yastrzemski on the hits list -- off the All-Star right-hander, who threw 80 of his 108 pitches for strikes five days after losing a rain-shortened game in New York.

David Phelps (5-5) lost for the first time in nine starts, allowing four runs and eight hits over six innings. The right-hander, like Darvish, was credited with a complete game last Wednesday in the 2-1 Yankees victory that didn't resume after rain in the bottom of the fifth inning.

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Derek Jeter passes Yaz on hits list

July, 28, 2014
Jul 28

ARLINGTON, Texas -- New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter moved ahead of Carl Yastrzemski and into seventh place on baseball's all-time hits list with three hits off Yu Darvish in the first seven innings of Monday night's 4-2 loss to the Texas Rangers.

"You know, it's quite an accomplishment," Jeter said. "It's tough to enjoy when you lost the game but yeah, I'm pretty sure when this season is over and done with, I'll look back and get a chance to realize how special it was. But yeah, any time you talk about a list of all-time great players its pretty special."

The Yankees' 40-year-old captain accomplished the feat with a quintessential Jeter single: a drive into right field off an inside-out swing with two outs and a runner on first base in the seventh inning. The hit was the 3,420th of Jeter's 20-year major league career, which puts him 10 hits behind No. 6 on the list, Honus Wagner. That will likely be the last hurdle Jeter can clear before his retirement at the end of this season; the player in fifth place, Tris Speaker, is 94 hits ahead, with 3,514.

Earlier in the game, Jeter had tied Yastrzemski with a ground-rule double, a line drive that bounced into the stands in distant right-center field in the third inning.

"It's been neat to watch," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "He's passed a lot of people; you think about the doubles, he broke that last week, and then you move up on the all-time hit list. He's been amazing."

(Read full post)

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Mark Teixeira took batting practice on the field Monday afternoon, ostensibly the final hurdle before he returns to the Yankees lineup after missing eight games -- assuming he does not pinch hit Monday night -- due to a lat strain.

But this should come as a shock to no one; Tex's days of playing 150-plus games a season, or even 125, are a thing of the past. The player who was once so durable he averaged 153 games a year for a stretch of nine straight seasons missed all but 15 games last season, and has already missed 29 games this season.

What's the difference?

As Teixeira admits, it's all about a three-letter word spelled A-G-E.

"I was injured plenty, I just played through it," Teixeira said of his first nine years, five of which were spent here in Arlington with the Rangers. "I can’t play through them anymore. That’s just the fact of the matter. The guys ask me, ‘How did you play in Texas for five years, 100 degrees every night?’ I was young. I was a kid. I played through everything."

[+] EnlargeMark Teixeira
Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY SportsFather Time has caught up to Mark Teixeira over the past two seasons.
Teixeira recited a litany of injuries he suffered from 2003-08 -- ankle surgery, quad tear, knee surgery -- without missing major playing time.

"That’s just the way it is when you’re young," said Teixeira, who turned 34 years old in April. "I can’t play through those things [now]. I don’t think I would have had to miss games with back spasms. I don’t think I would have missed games with the little tweak of my hamstring earlier in the season. Now I just can’t get through those anymore. Father Time is undefeated.”

Teixeira acknowledged he will need some "maintenance" to get through the remaining 56 games of the season, assuming he is able to return to the lineup on Tuesday.

"At a certain point, you hit a wall," he said. "I hit a wall last year, and hopefully I won’t have a lot of these, but if they do pop up, it’s just harder to play through it. There’s two ways to look at it: play until something hurts or you take days off, but you never want to take days off when you’re healthy. And I think that’s kind of baseball. You play until you can’t play.”

Teixeira, who leads the team in home runs (17) and RBIs (48), has not played since July 20, and was marred in an 0-for-13 slump at the time of his back injury. Still, the Yankees have missed his switch-hitting power bat in the middle of their lineup, and his glove at first base, where Brian McCann has given it a game effort with mixed results.

"We did OK in his absence [the Yankees were 4-3 minus Teixeira before Monday's game]," manager Joe Girardi said. "But I sure would have liked to have had him. It puts another power hitter and an outstanding first baseman [in the lineup]. It’s a much different look."

Teixeira did some light hitting in the indoor cage at Yankee Stadium on Sunday and pronounced himself "very happy."

"The back spasms are gone, which I’ve been dealing with for a long time, so that’s really good," Teixeira said. "I feel better now than I’ve felt in over a month. That’s definitely a good sign."

Girardi said it was possible Teixeira would be available to pinch hit Monday, if needed.
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Remember the game last Wednesday at Yankee Stadium when the grounds crew couldn't get the tarp on the field and Yu Darvish was left to stalk around in front of the visitor's dugout just dying to throw a baseball to, or at, someone?

Well, Darvish gets a rematch tonight with the Yankees and with David Phelps, both of whom beat him, 2-1, in that rain-shortened 4 1/2 inning game last week.

Here's the Yankees lineup Darvish will face tonight:

Brett Gardner LF
Derek Jeter SS
Brian McCann 1B
Carlos Beltran DH
Chase Headley 3B
Francisco Cervelli C
Brian Roberts 2B
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Zoilo Almonte LF

Notes: Mark Teixeira, who has not played in eight days due to a lat strain, took batting practice on the field tonight. Assuming he comes out of it OK, he's likely to start tomorrow. Tex said he "feels better than I have in a month," but acknowledged he can no longer play through injuries the way he did as a younger man . . . Jacoby Ellsbury was given the night off, a decision that Joe Girardi made last night on the flight to Texas. He told Ellsbury he would be off today when they landed . . . Ellsbury's absence moves Gardner to center and gives Zoilo Almonte, who was recalled from Triple-A Scranton today, a start in left . . . Girardi said Beltran was making progress with his pregame throwing but was still not likely to play the outfield again until the Yankees return home next Monday at the earliest.



Brett Gardner
.283 13 46 67
HRM. Teixeira 18
RBIM. Teixeira 50
RB. Gardner 67
OPSB. Gardner .812
WM. Tanaka 12
ERAM. Tanaka 2.51
SOM. Tanaka 135